High Sierra Music Festival: 07.01-07.04 | California

Words by: Dennis Cook, Jake Krolick, Susan J. Weiand and Aaron Kayce | Images by: Jake Krolick and Susan J. Weiand

High Sierra Music Festival :: 07.01.10-07.04.10 :: Plumas County Fairgrounds :: Quincy, CA

Anniversaries are funny things. Often too much or too little is made of them, but High Sierra 2010 struck a lovely balance in celebrating its 20th year, occasionally acknowledging that they'd hit two decades but mostly just nailing all the elements that make this festival unique and so dear to the regulars that return each 4th of July weekend.

It's tough to describe High Sierra to those who've never attended. On paper it makes little sense to say there are people everywhere – tents and RVs tucked into every nook and cranny of the Plumas County Fairgrounds, spilling into the woods and open fields surrounding every stage, building and port-a-potty – yet it never seems overly crowded or oppressive. In fact, High Sierra is one of the most peaceful, gentle, fun-loving assemblages of humanity most of us have ever encountered. Ebullient camaraderie is the general rule, so there are rarely hassles of any kind. One can walk right up to front of the stage at almost any set, and they'll usually be met by a smile, even if they're just meeting the person next to them. Rare is the walk through the maze of campers around the Big Meadow Stage where one isn't greeted with a handshake or a hug or offered some form of constriction loosening hospitality.

Yes, there's a strain of high octane Cali hippie-dippie-ness but mostly the citizens of this temporary city on a hill are just hardcore music lovers enjoying the smorgasbord laid out before them. High Sierra attracts folks with thoroughly catholic tastes, able to fully enjoy the rowdiness of big stage headliners like Widespread Panic and The Black Crowes but equally able to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the quietude of Dan Bern or the mesmerizing, rhythmic originality of Rubblebucket.

The 20th installment accentuated all the positives High Sierra has to offer. What follows are some of the highlights experienced by the JamBase crew as we quested after musical nirvana as America celebrated its 234th birthday. (Dennis Cook)

Continue reading for Jake Krolick's highlights...

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